Saturday, July 17, 2010

Has it already been 2 months!?

Time certainly moves just as fast as "they" say it does...
(I have the word they in quotes because for me it means the majority of people, but when my mom says they, she usually means Oprah, ie "you know what they say about that new diet...etc.") 
I feel like just yesterday I arrived in Seattle, and already I am getting used to the very things that drew me here in the first place-- the mountains, the water, and the nature all around me--  I walked down to Ballard a few days ago (Ballard is a great little part of town on a shipping canal and happens to be where I live right now) and as I was approaching the water while walking down towards the main street, I didn't even notice the fishing boats or the snow capped mountains in the background.  It took a few moments for me to realize what had happened... "I live in Seattle now...", I said to myself, "and am getting used to it"  I was reminded of the feeling I had while I was living in Rome 6 years ago.  It doesn't matter if the Pantheon is in your back yard, or the most beautiful mountains, water, and natural landscape- in time we all get used to things and tend to take them for granted if we don't constantly remind ourselves not to.  It is a hard reality to grasp, so Im trying my best to overcome it by thinking about where I am more often and getting outside as much as possible.

I will say, Seattle is certainly growing on me.  The people here are great, and there are just SO many things to do that are in such close proximity to the city it is impossible to get bored.  Seattle has one of the most magnificent park networks of any city I've visited in the world.  There must be 100+ parks, some with the most breath taking views you have ever seen, some with beaches where you can swim, some with just a few swing sets in the middle of the city, and everything else in between.  The great thing is that they are accessible, rarely full of people, and you can visit a different one every day for a run, a hike, some beach time, some amazing views- and it just doesn't seem to get old.  I wish I could post one picture from each park I've been to, but I don't think it is really possible to capture the feeling effectively in a single photograph and I already have 115 to share, so Ill save Seattle's parks for another time.
Even better yet- Seattle sits between the Cascade mountain range, and the Olympic peninsula, so in just a few hours time you can also access some of the best hiking, camping, kayaking... you name it, and it is close.  A few weekends back when my friend Joe was here visiting, we put my car on the ferry to Bainbridge Island, then drove out to the Olympics.  In 3 hours we had passed through Forks (the town where Twilight takes place) and were in the Hoh Rainforest.  A short distance from there and we were on some of the most amazing beaches- covered in layers of fog.
Long story short, I just cant get enough of all there is to do and see out here.  Though I will say, if the outdoors isn't your thing, maybe Seattle isn't quite as great as I make it out to be.  But if you like being outside, boats, hiking, biking, running, camping, climbing, etc... this is your city for sure.

On to more practical things.  I have not yet found work, but I'm not yet willing to settle for something less than perfect.  I've met some amazing people in my field and am doing all I can to get a job working with them, or with other companies that they have referred me to.  Finding work can be a slow process, but hopefully, in time, I will find a position that makes me happy.
In the meantime, Ive been focusing most of my energy towards my photography class, which has been out of this world!  There are 12 of us in the class- ranging in age from mid 20's to 50's, all of which are fun, energetic, and super creative people.  Im making some great friends in the class and really having a blast working on our projects.  Some of my work is up in the gallery below...

There are 115 pictures to go through, but I think they are worth checking out if you have the time.
Thanks for reading and I hope you are all doing well.  Hopefully Ill have another update in the next few weeks.

(click the play button below, then click the info tab- i tried putting a title on each picture so you know what you are looking at...)

Monday, June 21, 2010

life these days

Tonight I am writing about nothing in particular.  The white space that occurs in between other, bigger events in life...  The times that you see something amazing, find yourself in a place and can't really figure out the series of events that got you there, or simply stay out for one more drink and wind up meeting someone who will develop into a good friend.  These are the times that I cherish most in life, the unplanned times, and as of late, I've not done all that much that is truly noteworthy, but I've done a whole lot of nothing, and it sure has lead me into some super cool situations.  I've got four stories to note, so the post might be a little long but be sure to read story 4 before taking off... It has the leaset pictures but is my favorite story!

Story #1: Oliver's Twist.
Last friday I had no plans.  I didn't really know who to call, so i decided to be proactive and head out alone (each time I do this, i feel like I get the slightest bit more comfortable in my own skin, if you've not done it, you should, trust me, you will survive and you might learn a thing or two about yourself).  There was some event called the "arts walk" in my neighborhood, and well, I like art, so i figured I'd check it out.  My "art walk" experience really isnt all that interesting, in fact, mediocre is a better word to use when describing it... but AFTER the art walk, 15 blocks away from home, I decided, as any logical person would, that it was time for a drink.  I was about 20 pages from completing "On The Road" by Jack Kerouac and found the perfect bar to do it in.  I sat down at the corner of the bar, ordered a drink, and opened it up.

Two girls sitting to my left mentioned to me that I had the same drink as them, thus starting some conversation (with 10 pages left, I closed the book).  Turns out one of them JUST completed the photography class that I just signed up for, so we chatted about our cameras, life, photography, etc.  Well, after about an hour or two of chatting and me expressing that I was trying to get more into sailing, I got invited to go out the very next morning as part of the crew in a sailing race... not bad, right?  So at 930 the next morning, I bought a 6 pack or beer, met my new friend Christina in the parking lot at the marina and went out for a race.  Not bad.  
Heidi was our captain- 'Cricket' is her boat.
a great boat name "Tutto Bene" means 'everything's good' in italian... 
The views around Seattle on a clear day are unlike anything I have ever seen... if you could plan a trip here during the summer, i promise you will not be disappointed... though, keep in mind, according to locals summer starts on July 5th every year.
Our crew, post race.  Some were pulling ropes, others of us merely weighed the boat down to keep us fast... either way, it was a blast and the weather couldn't have been nicer.  I also met a great group of people as a result.

Story #2: Nature.This past friday, once again, I had nothing on the schedule...(seeing a pattern here?).  Logan wanted to go for a hike, so she invited me along and I went...why not, i hadn't gotten a chance to hike yet since arriving and I've heard there are some really nice hikes around here...

 I didnt know what to expect, but she said it would be 4 miles in and 4 miles out and it was about an hour away.  When we arrived and got started, my mind was blown.  This place was SO beautiful.  The water was crystal clear, the mountains capped in snow, the trees so green and all the smells of flowers and pine filling the fresh air.  It felt like we were in the middle of the swiss alps... and reminded me of why i moved here.  I still have a hard time believing that just one hour away from Seattle there exists such a place... I cant wait to camp in one of these great places.
Unfortunately, due to some snow on the ground, we didnt quite make it to the lake.  Logan fell into a hole (see below) which thankfully was very shallow, so we turned back from there, but we still saw plenty of amazing things along the way- here are some pics... 

ZaZi Interlude...
Just look at this dog... her name is Zazi and she is awesome.  Logan is house sitting so i was over there for dinner and got a chance to play with this energetic pup.  I grabbed a few shots to add to my collection.

Dogs make such great expressions.  All Zazi was saying was "hey mr. can you put that camera down and hit the wiffle ball so I can run and get it?"

A few of us had dinner together at that house one night

Story #3: Solstice Festival.Every year, in Freemont (which is a little part of seattle that claims to be the center of the universe) holds a solstice festival.  Now, after being at bay to breakers in San Francisco, this simply couldn't compete- though there were a great deal of interesting characters there and I got some fun shots.  Oddly enough, I went to the solstice festival this saturday because, well wouldn't you know it, I didn't have anything to do so I ventured out alone to check it out... check the pics out
Ever wonder where all the VW buses are?  Well, it seems they are all here in Seattle... no joke, i see at least 10 every time I go out.
 I think this MIGHT be just a bit too far... but it was certainly funny enough to take a picture of.

Story #4: The coolest bike ride.
This Saturday, after the solstice festival, i actually HAD SOME PLANS for a change!  Big deal right, I know...  I was invited to play some cards and I was excited to go.  (Side note:on friday, during my hike, I got a call from a new friend named Joe.  He sails and since I also told him I was interested in learning, he invited me out for a race on Sunday... well, on saturday, before the card game, he called with bad news... the boat was out racing today and it crashed into another boat... sad news because I was excited to sail again)... but the guys at the card game invited me to go on a bike ride instead, so I figured it was a great plan b.  Back to the card started out just as any card game would but it let to some serious drinking, heading out to a bar with a bigger group, all of us nearly getting in a fight with the bouncer for arguing about what time the bar actually closed because it said 2, but they were kicking us out at 130 because according to them, "BAR TIME said it was 2..." when it was actually 130... which is BS... right?  Anyway, none of this is important, what IS important is that I needed to be up at 8am in order to get on my bike and ride to where we were all meeting- about 5 miles away- and it was almost 3am... and I had quite a few drinks in me... so I left my car there, got a ride home, and did what any normal guy would do.  I changed the pedals on my bike, tuned it up, packed my stuff for the next day... all while I was a bit out of my mind intoxicated... then I went to bed.  At 8, i thought i was going to die, but I got up because I was excited.  I took a few sips of OJ and made a game time decision to take my portable bose sound dock with me, so that I could BLAST some tunes WHILE we rode.  As I went to leave i realized that both my helmet and my raincoat were in my car- which at this point was pretty far away... So i ride the first length without them and borrow both from my friend Ben... We all get started around 930 and meet the rest of the group around 10am.  It is raining, it is cold, but I am CRANKING James Brown, Sex Machine for all the world to see and the 10 of us (same group from the night before) embark on a wet 20 mile ride to the red hook brewery in what became one of the coolest days I've had since arriving here in Seattle... which as always, winds up being due to the people.  Any 10 people that will get up that early after a hard night of drinking, not bail out on their plans, and bike that far in the rain with a smile on their face are my type of people.  So anyway, we rode, we drank, we ate, and we rode back.  It was such a fun day, but now at 130am, I am about to fall over because I am so exhausted.  So, to the 9 of you who I went on the ride with, thanks for an awesome day.  I hope you all enjoyed the 2 hours of loud music along the way-
This picture was shot with Lauren Furuya's camera by a perfect stranger along the way- Im just borrowing it to show the crew.  (and u can see my speaker in the green back pack on the ground)

Thats it for this time.  Starting this tuesday I have my photography class and I am going to be doing a weekly blog on so W2W might slow down a bit, but I do love posting on here so Ill do my best to keep posting if at least a few of you will keep reading it.  Id love to know who is reading... if you care to go public, leave a comment...

Friday, June 11, 2010

A heavy does of the Goonies to kick off my summer in Seattle...

Summer is more than just a season.  It is more than just the time of year when the temperature lends itself to wearing shorts, flip flops, and sitting in the sun... Let us not forget that for the first 22 years of life, summer also meant VACATION and after 22 years it is a tough habit to break.

[this is lee, one of my best friends from DC, who came to seattle for the day on his way to china... we all went bowling together and it was a blast]
Now, I realize that life simply cannot be one big vacation, and that all good things in life must come to an end, but why can't a person take a solid length of time off from work to regroup and reconnect or even connect for the first time with those things most important to them?  Anyway, I am chalking up my travels and my time here in Seattle to just that- regrouping and figuring some things out and I've got to say- thus far things have been going quite well. 

Seattle has been grey, and a bit rainy, but I maintain my previous perspective of optimism and still feel a strong connection with the landscape and people all around me.  As of this past Tuesday, Jesse, Andrea, and Charlie have all moved on- back to Australia, Hawaii, and NY, leaving me on my own for the first time since arriving to get set up in the apartment and deal with the less fun, more necessary things, like car registration, renewing my passport, and other administrative tasks.  I am proud to say that as of today, most everything has been dealt with and I am starting to feel like I have a real home here in Seattle... A feeling I haven't had for a while now.

The sun is out, and is scheduled to be out for the next 10 days.  Lots of fun ideas are flooding my mind, so who knows what Ill be up to, but ill be sure to take pics.  On June 22nd Joe arrives from Chicago to spend two weeks here AND I have my first photography course!!  Until then, it's time to get out and enjoy the city.

here are some pictures from the past 10 days...

When Lee was in town, we all went out bowling.  Look what was playing on TV... (if you dont know what this is, it's a scene from The Goonies... only the best movie ever made...)
Me getting my bowl on...

Lee, Jesse, and Andrea.... it felt awesome to have two of my worlds mixed... and they mixed very well!! Jesse, Logan, and Andrea loved Lee and he loved them too...

I think they were talking about dorky science stuff here... all three of them are scientists (though, Andrea has the coolest title... she is a volcanologist... that's right... she is a Dr. of Volcanos.

I had nothing to contribute, so i set up the self timer and attacked their dorky science study session for a fun photo.
The next day I left bright and early en route to Astoria Oregon, the location where the Goonies was filmed in 1985.  The 25th anniversary celebration took place, and I bought tickets to go.  That is Mt. Rainier in the background, by the way... not a bad view when heading south from Seattle.

Some of you know this about me, some don't, so I will briefly explain why I would attend just a random event.  Germain, my brother, was always the movie guy.  I was always the adventurer.  Outside most days playing in my treehouse or in the woods and using my imagination to pretend I was something bigger, like Indiana Jones, or Mikey from the Goonies... I grew up with this movie as a staple in my cinematic diet. and it was about time I celebrated that fact with a bunch of other crazy, like minded individuals.
I met the artist behind this AMAZING original commemorative piece.  His name is Jesse Horst ( and his work is out of this world.  He, his wife, and his brother, dressed up as Sloth, Cyndi Lauper, and Chunk and were actually featured in the astoria newspaper AND mentioned in the washington post.  I waited with them in the meet and greet line and got to know them- super awesome people.  Check out Jesse's website.  He hand made all their costumes and is an incredible artist.
This is them below (photo borrowed from a facebook post and is not my own)
Nikki, Jesse, and Jeremy Horst, from Buffalo NY (drove all the way across the country for this event)
The day started out at the Goondocks, check in location and store.
Then we headed out on a bus tour... I had no idea how many movies have been filmed here in Astoria, Free Willy, Kindergarten Cop, The ring 2...  this is the school from Kindergarten Cop... "Im detective John Kimball, Im a cop you idiot"
This is a picture of Astoria taken from the attic of the real goonies house!!! (All shots in the house from the movie were shot on location, not typical in the movie world because finding room for the cameras is tough when you are not on a set, but the kids almost felt like this was their home while they were here- though all attic shots were actually shot in the studio, so being up in the attic wasnt quite as special, but look at this view!!)
Data's house, across the driveway
Me at the very same window where the movie starts out with Mikey looking out into the rain... this was a big highlight for me.
now this picture is weird... the owners of the house TOTALLY renovated it... so the inside doesnt look anything like the movie (bummer) but the outside still does!!
awesome porch shot... if you know the movie well, this will be familiar.
the house from outside.
Inside Mouths kitchen (which has not been updated!) and was super authentic, aside from that new microwave back there.
The bridge in Astoria
me at the windows in the bowling alley where chunk spills his strawberry milkshake while watching the cop chase.
me outside the bowling alleythe Jail from the opening scene.  Now a film museum
an authentic replica jeep from the film (some bigger fans than me put the pieces together, including the bullet holes in the back!!)
"O.R.V.... Bullet holes.... Bullet holes the size of MATZOH BALLS!!!!"  
The line waiting for the meet and greet
jeremy and Jesse Horst, in costume!  So awesome.
jeremy, me, jesse, and nikki
Mouth!  (aka Corey Feldman)
Jesse Horst ALSO hand sculpted the sculpture of David from the film, complete with the appropriate upside down parts... his goal was to get it signed by all the Goonies... what a great idea. 
Chunk!!  aka Jeff Cohen (not so chunky anymore though... sadly)
Me and Chunk.  Not a great pic (we werent allowed to ask them to take pics with us because there were so many people waiting for autographs)
More new friends!  I met Joshua and Jessica on the bus tour.  We wound up spending the whole day together and since they had such a sweet room with lots of extra space they offered me their pull out couch so I cancelled my motel and spend the night with them.  Such amazing people, and another group of new friends- they live in Arizona, near phoenix.
The three of us went to dinner at the Rogue Brewery and I "grabbed crab" a tradition in astoria.  Their dinner special was Crab caught on one of the "Deadliest Catch" ships!
One of the many 80's parties going on that night in Astoria
One of the random things for sale in a random shop in Astoria...
The view from Josh and Jessica's room.
Chunks GTI!
Before heading out of town, I checked out the maritime museum.  Considering Astoria, OR was the first settlement west of the Mississippi, outside of the Goonies, there is a lot of history here.  The maritime museum was very cool.  This is an example of the waves that ships have to go over to get out of the columbia river.  It is the location with the most ship wrecks on the west coast- those red dots below are all the shipwrecks that happen there.
Ever wonder what the inside of a tugboat looks like?  I have!  And here was a full control room from a tug boat... I felt 10 years old again here.  It was great fun.
The outside of the museum
Me at Canon beach- where the end of the film was shot...
All Misc shots from the beach.
heading back out of town- on the left is the motel i would have stayed at... not so nice.
a view of the house from afar... located right in the middle of this picture.

Jesse cleaning up some of the wooden trim
Charlie and I cutting some new shelving.
Gotta thank Jesse for shooting these pics of me- I so rarely get good pics of me, but i really like these few!  Thanks jess.
a glimpse out my back door during some seattle rain... 
and last but not least- my room!!  It's getting there.  I just hung some wire and clips and printed out some of my favorite images along with some family and friends photos to make the space a bit more personal.  A fun and affordable method of displaying your photos!

Well, if you made it this far, thanks for taking 20 minutes out of your day to read my blog.  I love sharing my life with those of you who care enough to read it... but if you just check out the pics, that's ok too... that's probably what I would do anyway.

More to come in another week or so!  Thanks for reading.